Clumber Health A – Z


The Clumber Spaniel is generally a healthy breed however there are some conditions that may affect them from time to time. Most of these are common to many breeds but may lead on to welfare issues.


Taking good care of a Clumber Spaniel will help to avoid some conditions occurring.

Diet & Fitness

Feed an appropriate diet for the age & fitness level for the dog; most dog food brands offer a range for puppy, junior, adult or senior dogs. Neutered dogs will be prone to weight gain and so the amount fed needs to be adjusted. Ideally you should be able to feel a dog’s ribs but they should not be visible and there should be an obvious waistline behind the rib cage. Regular exercise is also required to maintain fitness and mental well being.


A Clumber needs to be groomed at least weekly to keep the coat in good condition and to remove tangles.Feet need to be trimmed to remove excess coat especially between the toes as knots can develop here and lead to sore feet. Nails need to be trimmed regularly.Ears must be kept clean; there are many proprietary cleaners available and a good, regular cleaning regime will keep the ears healthy.Eyes should be monitored and cleaned if necessary.


The following list is not meant to frighten you. It is to make you aware of some of the more common health issues affecting Clumber Spaniels based on the findings of previous health surveys. All breeds have some incidence of defects and diseases, just as humans do. Awareness makes you better prepared to deal with potential problems.

You must seek immediate veterinary help if you have any serious concerns about your Clumber Spaniel.

Anal Gland Impaction

This condition has been regularly reported in Clumber Spaniels but should not cause serious or long term effects. Impacted anal glands become itchy and sore and typically the affected dog will drag his anus along the ground or bite himself around the base of his tail. The major cause is dietary leading to stools that are insufficiently bulky to force sac expression during defecation. Increasing the fibre content of the dog’s diet can often cure mild cases. More serious cases may need the glands to be emptied by manual pressure (usually by a vet). In severe recurrent cases it may be necessary to have the glands removed.

Autoimmune Heamolitic Anaemia

This condition has been reported in Clumber Spaniels but is rare. It is a potentially life threatening condition where the body attacks its own immune system, causing a profound anæmia. Most common symptoms are a dramatic sudden decrease in the dog’s energy and activity level. The dog may barely be able to get up and may be quite reluctant to move. It is important that you seek veterinarian advice as soon as possible.


This condition is occasionally reported in Clumber Spaniels and should not cause serious or long term effects. It is the inflammation of the large bowel or colon. Fæces tend to be soft and may contain spots of blood and an increased amount of mucus. The dog appears to be healthy in all other respects. This rarely requires a trip to the vet, as it responds well to dietary management. Withhold food for 24 hours while ensuring an adequate supply of water is available. After this time, feed the dog on a light diet, such as chicken and rice or fish and rice for a couple of days and then gradually put him back on to his normal diet. If this problem reoccurs frequently, you may want to consider feeding your dog a diet especially formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are commonly reported in Clumber Spaniels however they generally respond well to treatment although dogs that are prone to ear problems may have recurrent infections. One of the most common causes of ear infections is lack of adequate ventilation. In mild cases there may be little to see apart from an increase in wax. As the disease progresses, the ear will begin to smell and the dog may shake its head. The ear may become very painful. Regular maintenance should prevent this from becoming a problem. The ears should be regularly checked and cleaned with an ear cleaner. Excess hair should be cut away from inside the earflap, so improving ventilation.

Elbow Breaks

A number of cases of Clumbers suffering from elbow breaks have been reported and data from all of the reported cases has been compiled. At present there are insufficient numbers for meaningful research to take place and we would welcome any additional reports.

These breaks may be due to Incomplete Ossification of the Humeral Condyle (IOHC) also known as Elbow Y Fractures or Humeral Intracondylar Fissure (HIF). This is a condition in which there is a fault in the humeral condyle (part of the elbow joint in the forelimb) and it is most commonly seen in spaniel. The condition predisposes a dog to fractures (breaks) of the humeral condyle and can also cause lameness in its own right without fracture.

There may be a genetic basis to IOHC/HIF, but as yet, this has not been determined.

Elbow Dysplasia

Since the introduction of a screening scheme for Elbow Dysplasia a growing number of Clumbers have been screened and most are found to be free of the condition. The majority of dogs being presented for Hip Dysplasia screening have their elbows screened at the same time. Elbow Dysplasia simply means ‘abnormal development of the elbow’. The term includes a number of specific abnormalities that affect different sites within the joint. These cause problems by affecting the growth of the cartilage which forms the surface of the joint or the structures around it.

Please visit the Elbow Dysplasia page for more information.

Eye Health

Please visit the Eye Health page for more information.

Breed health surveys have shown the most common eye conditions to affect Clumber Spaniels are Dry Eye, Ectropion & Entropion which are described below. Not all Clumbers will be affected and monitoring of eye health is showing a vast improvement in eye health. Clumbers do not suffer from retinal eye diseases.

Eye Health / Dry Eye (Kerato Conjunctivis Sicca)

Dry eye usually affects dogs as they get older; it responds well with treatment but can become more persistent with time. With this disease the dog fails to produce tears. As the cornea dries, the surface of the eye becomes covered with a grey, sticky mucus. It is important to keep the eye area clean, which can be achieved with a bit of Optrex on cottonwool. Artificial tears and anti-inflammatory drops will be needed to control the condition.

Eye Health / Ectropion

In this condition, the edge of the eyelid rolls away from the surface of the eye. Some looseness of the lower lid is typical of many Clumbers but it should never be excessive. In severe cases the lower lids may centrally sag to a degree that the sides roll in causing entropion.

Eye Health / Entropion

In this condition, the edge of the eyelid rolls in so that the lashes and hairs rub against the surface of the eye. Corrective surgery may be necessary, but unless causing the dog severe discomfort should be postponed until the dogs head has finished developing, as quite often it corrects itself as part of development.

Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC)

EIC was first identified in Clumber Spaniels in 2015 and a significant number of dogs are being screened for the condition. A good percentage of these have been identified as carriers but very few have been affected, less than 10 individuals are symptomatic. EIC causes affected dogs to have profound exercise intolerance, although not all affected dogs will show symptoms. It is a simple recessive gene trait, and a DNA test is available.

Please visit the EIC  page for more information

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopaedic problem of dogs and is found in many breeds. It has been recognised as a breed specific problem for many years however current testing shows that the majority of Clumbers have good hips.

Abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to joint deformity. ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal growth. The developmental changes appear first and later one or both hip joints may become mechanically defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and cause lameness It is not life threatening but may cause extreme discomfort in severely affected dogs. The Clumber Spaniel Club encourages members to X-ray breeding stock and submit plates to the BVA/KC scheme. Please visit the Hips Dysplasia page for more information.


This condition has been reported in Clumber Spaniels but is rare. Hypothyroidism occurs more commonly in medium to large breed dogs and usually in middle aged dogs. It is a condition that can be easily treated.

The thyroid glands located in the neck produce hormones that affect the function of many parts of the body. Dogs with thyroid disease usually have a low production of thyroid hormones that result in a decreased metabolic rate.

Overactive thyroid glands (Hyperthyroidism) in the dog are rare and are usually associated with cancer.

The most common signs of low thyroid function in dogs include loss or thinning of the fur, dull hair coat, excess shedding, weight gain, reduced activity and reduced ability to tolerate the cold. The hair loss occurs primarily over the body, sparing the head and legs, and is usually not accompanied by itching or redness of the skin. Some dogs will have thickening of the skin and increased skin pigment, especially in areas of friction, such as the armpit (axilla). Hypothyroid dogs often have ear infections and show ear pain, redness, and odour. Hypothyroid dogs may also develop skin infections which may be itchy and result in sores on the body.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Health surveys have shown that this condition has a higher incidence rate in Clumber Spaniels than is found is the majority of breeds. Therefore the Clumber Spaniel Club is working with the RVC to carry out research into the condition and the significance for the breed. It can be very serious and potentially life threatening. These discs are soft cartilagenous structures located between individual spinal vertebrae to allow smooth frictionless movement of the spine. When a disc ruptures, the jelly like centre is squeezed upwards against the spinal cord and nerves, applying pressure and causing inflammation and pain. The two most common locations for disc disease are in the neck and the midback. Disc disease is usually seen in the middle-aged dog due to the disc finally rupturing after much wear and tear. Some cases will respond well to medical treatment aimed at reducing the inflammation and swelling around the disc. Those with recurrent pain may require spinal surgery to remove the affected disc. Not all dogs with disc problems recover – some may be left with completely paralysed hind legs. Many owners give a supplement of Glucosamine with Chondroitin throughout the dogs life which has been shown to rehabilitate cartilage and reduce the progression of arthritis.

Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase 1 Deficiency (PDP1)

PDP1 is a rare condition in Clumbers. It is a debilitating exercise intolerance condition, with fatal outcome usually before the dog reaches 3 months of age. A simple DNA test will determine whether the dog is”affected”, a “carrier or ‘clear’ of the disease. Please visit the PDP1 page for more information.

Skin Allergies

Skin problems are commonly reported in Clumber Spaniels but are usually the result of an allergy and are readily treatable.                                                                              Most skin diseases are as a result of a reaction between the dog’s skin and its environment. These disorders may be chronic, intermittent or seasonal, and so may require constant or intermittent treatment. Most common causes of skin irritations are: – parasitic e.g. fleas, mites (mange); bacterial (pyoderma) – this is usually secondary to some other skin disease; contact allergies ~ the skin becomes directly sensitised to some material in his environment; food allergies; and anal gland impaction Treatment depends on the cause of the irritation.

Umbilical Hernias

This is a condition that is found in many breeds and is not reported in significant numbers within Clumber Spaniels.                                                                                    An umbilical hernia occurs where the umbilical cord was attached to the puppy from the placenta. It is a hole or rupture in the body wall, through which abdominal fat protrudes. In most cases only a small piece of fat protrudes and this becomes sealed off so that the hernia cannot be reduced by finger pressure. If the hole is large enough for a loop of intestine to pass through, then it will be necessary to have it surgically repaired to prevent the hernia becoming ‘strangulated’.

Uterine Inertia

This is often reported in Clumber Spaniels. It is a condition of the whelping bitch who either fails or gives up having contractions. An injection of the hormone oxytocin may stimulate contractions but should only be used if the cervix is fully open. If there has been no response from the injection after 20 minutes then a Caesarean section may be the only course of action (A car ride, or walk around the garden has frequently been known to stimulate a bitch to start contractions)

The following is an unusual case which the owners wished to share so that anyone who has a Clumber presenting with similar symptoms may identify the cause more quickly.

A Case of Steroid Responsive Meningitis(SRM) in a Clumber:-  Meningitis